News / Arts & Entertainment

March 20 Marks International Day of Happiness

File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
Faiza Elmasry
In the Kingdom of Bhutan, the measure of the quality of life is expressed as the GNH: the gross national happiness. In 2012, the tiny Himalayan nation persuaded the U.N. General Assembly to establish the International Day of Happiness. It is a formal opportunity to consider what makes us happy.

The emotion is so important to our well-being that America's founding fathers considered the pursuit of happiness to be a God-given right.

What is happiness? We know it when we feel it, but there is no simple way to define it, says Joseph Panetta, spokesman for Live Happy magazine. However, he adds, there are certain components to happiness.

“Those things include positive relationships, a positive outlook," he said. "They include engagement, being engaged in your community and the things that are going on around you...Meaning is probably the most important thing. When someone feels that what they’re doing has a real meaning behind it, that’s greater than themselves, they gain a much more positive feeling from doing it.”

Being happy, he says, is essential for our health.

“We know from a scientific perspective that human beings are hardwired to perform their best when happy," he said. "People with positive and optimistic mindset earn higher incomes, they set and achieve more aggressive goals, have less stress. They are more energetic. They also recover from illnesses faster and, interestingly, they live longer.”

Filmmaker Adam Shell considers himself a happy person.

“I’ve always had a high baseline for happiness and my default goes back to happy and content," Shell said. "I like to laugh a lot and for me that’s one of my priorities in life.”

Shell has traveled across America, searching for genuinely happy people for his documentary, Pursuing Happiness.

“What we did is just reached out to everybody we knew along that route and said, ‘Who’s the happiest person you know?' And we got amazing responses," he said.

They found more than 360 happy people.

“We’ve interviewed people like in their 90s; we actually have a woman who is 104. We’ve also interviewed people who are two, barely able to talk but they have a perspective on happiness, and everything in between.”

Shell says those people didn’t let life’s challenges take away their happiness.

“There is this one gentleman who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio," Shell said. "He lost both his hands from elbow down in an electrical accident almost 25 years ago. Then, he lost his wife to cancer and had to raise his daughter on his own. This is a guy who it seems like everything that could go wrong in his life was going wrong. The entire time he was going through this, he maintained such high standards of attitude and emotion. He was always happy. He was always cracking jokes and seeing the lighter side of life.”

People, he says, are not happy because they are successful; they succeed because they are happy.

“Life is difficult in any way you slice it, no matter where you live, how you live," Shell said. "And I think it’s all about attitude. It’s how you look at the world. And when something bad happens, yeah you have to go through that; the negative emotions, the fear, the loss and the pain. None of the people we’ve interviewed has denied those emotions, but it's how you turn those around and saying, 'OK, I went through that, that happened, now want to get back to me. Now I get back to the way I want to be in life.'” 

Shell will screen segments from his documentary in New York on March 20, the International Day of Happiness, to encourage people to focus on what makes them happy.

That is also the goal behind the “Acts of Happiness" campaign by Live Happy magazine, says Joseph Panetta.

“The Acts of Happiness campaign will actually bring walls of happiness to major metropolitan cities all across the country. And these walls of happiness are meant for people to go there and write on them their acts of happiness, what they do to share and spread happiness in the world," Panetta said. "Happiness grows when you share it, when you spread it. If it’s not a city where there is a wall located, they can go to the website; actsofhappiness.org, there is a virtual wall and they can share and celebrate their acts of happiness.”

After all, he says, happiness is contagious, and you can celebrate it every day of the year.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”